MULLEN MOMO: The ultimate team sport requires consistent effort

Leo’s Kaeden Miller takes off with the ball on a kick return during September 17’s game at East Noble.

Joining the Outside the Huddle staff in 2021 is former Bishop Luers standout Kendrick Mullen. The member of the Class of 2013 suited up for Ball State University and after college served as an assistant coach for several years with his high school alma mater. Mullen is now a football trainer and 7v7 coach at Optimum Performance Sports.

Kendrick’s weekly Monday column goes by the name “Mullen MoMo.” According to Kendrick himself, MoMo was something late Bishop Luers coach Mike Egts used to say to players to get them going. “I’m pretty sure it just means like momentum or something,” Kendrick says.

There are many things that make the game of football such an intense and enjoyable sport. In my humble opinion, football is the ultimate team sport.

Now I could very well be biased to the sport, but there are reasons why I stand by that claim. I’ve seen some extraordinary individual performances in my day where one could say the player “put the team on his back.” While one player has the ability to have a big influence on his team’s success, it takes more than just a single individual effort to get the job done during a game.

I say football is the ultimate team sport because a team needs every member working together in order for success. Coaches have to be able to trust the players and the players have to be able to trust the coaches. Most importantly, the players have to be able to trust one another. Having trust in one another means that you are willing to go out and give maximum effort for your team. 

As a coach, I’m sure to remind players that one aspect of the game that they have complete control over is their effort. Effort is like the engine that keeps everything going and intact. The effort you put into the game is a direct reflection of your team’s success. Does that mean that just by effort alone your team will go out and win multiple games? Not exactly. Rather, effort is the first (and arguably the most important) step in becoming a winning program.

High school is a crucial time in finding out what teenagers really enjoy doing. The many clubs and extracurricular activities that schools offer allows students to dig deep into their bag of talents and fully express themselves. High school football embodies just that. Players genuinely enjoy being a part of a team and showcasing their talents to the best of their abilities. 

Of course not every student-athlete on the team will share the same passion for football or is going to give the same amount of effort. The elite programs always seem to have their team locked in on a goal of giving the absolute maximum amount of effort.

Teams in northeast Indiana have been doing just that. On Fridays you can physically see the amount of effort teams are putting forth. Whether it is for bragging rights or a hatred for losing, it is very evident that players take the game seriously. No one actually enjoys losing, but giving your team the best chance at winning means to have the will to go out and compete every night.

Last week heading into halftime down 32-12 to Leo, I can recall two interactions with the East Noble football team. Trailing 20 points in the game was certainly not on the itinerary for the Knights but it was their reality. In an effort to rally his teammates, senior Kainon Carico passionately spoke out that they were a better team than the score indicated. Head coach Luke Amstutz simply told his team that they would make the right adjustments in the locker room during halftime.

The second half showed those “adjustments” on full display. Seeing as to how dominant the Lions offense was in the first half, one could have believed the second half of action was trending in the direction of a running clock. But the emotion and frustration coming from the East Noble sideline gave me a feeling that the game was far from over.

Coming out of the half, East Noble scored 20 unanswered points to tie the game up in the fourth quarter. You could feel the momentum of the game shifting with some costly Leo mistakes aiding the way. 

Over on the opposing sideline, the Lions did not panic. It was aware that the game flow was trending East Noble. Like all great teams, the Lions did not shy away from what had gotten them their comfortable lead in the first half.

On a huge fourth & long situation late in the fourth quarter, Leo’s offense came out in a spread formation. I was in total shock seeing them come out in any formation besides the Wing-T. 

For a team that had only thrown one pass in the game, I knew for sure being stuck in a fourth & long situation would force the Lions to step outside their traditional offensive ways and throw the ball.

I was wrong.

The Lions went with their bread and butter and ran the ball to convert the fourth down play. They then went on to score and convert the two-point conversion (their fifth of the game) in what would be the last points scored by either team. Leo had to do whatever it took to make it out of a tough environment on the road, and it executed.

Both teams went above and beyond to ensure their team had a chance at winning the highly-anticipated rivalry game. In a matchup with so many big-name athletes it took more than just great talent. The teams had to show up and give everything they had.

These are the teams that understand that there is no success without effort. Simple fundamentals such as blocking to the whistle and getting multiple defenders to finish off a tackle are both visual representations of effort. The great teams find ways to give more than what is expected of them. Plays are designed to put the team in positive situations, but the execution of the play usually comes down to the amount of effort given.

In most instances winning games simply comes down to who wants it more. 

Mullen MoMo appears every week during the prep football season. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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